Behind the scenes work to get the planes off the ground at Ellsworth AFB

ELLSWORTH AFB, S.D. — Combat Raider continues and while you may see the jets in the sky, you might not see the crews on the ground, working behind the scenes to get the mission on its way.

“We have airmen who are contributing to the mission and allowing Combat Raider to be a success,” said Lt. Col Kristina Ellis, Commander of the 28th Operations Support Squadron.

From briefing the weather to making sure the airfield is safe, and all the way to takeoff, these men and women are also getting some extra training and experience out of the large scale exercise that is Combat Raider.

In the weather shop, they work to keep the base safe, but also the jets for wherever the mission takes them. And they say it’s a little bit different briefing the visitors.

“We’re used to forecasting for the B-1 but there’s different interests for different aircraft and the pilots care about different kinds of weather,” said Capt. Daniel Jagoda, Weather Flight Commander. “We have to take all of their interests into account where they’re here for Combat Raider.”

And right across from the weather shop is airfield management.

“Our role in Combat Raider is to develop an on airport operation and parking planning, as well as developing a plan for the fighters to safely operate from their current location,” said Sheldon Parrish, Airport Specialist.

They keep all movement on the airfield safe day in and day out. But who handles that movement? Air traffic control.

“They get to see a bigger amount of traffic, complexity that is much bigger than what they’re used to so this exercise prepares them for anything they’re going to come up with or come into contact with,” said MSgt. Nicole Scharff, Tower Chief Controller.

Whether the jets come in one at a time or in a formation, ATC keeps them safe in the air and on the ground.

Categories: Local News, South Dakota News